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Your Guide to a Weekend Getaway in Gainesville

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

Upon first coming to UF, I was (and still am) excited to participate in as many school-spirited events as I could. I knew that Gainesville was a college town, and I looked forward to spending as much time as I could on our beautiful campus. From loudly cheering on the Gators at the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to finding myself involved in various student clubs, I truly feel at home on UF’s campus.

Little did I know, however, that the city of Gainesville itself has so much more to offer. Gainesville is more than just your typical college town. Besides the exciting nightlife scene at Midtown, I’ve discovered some hidden gems located not that far from campus. If you or your friends are looking for a weekend to just relax, have fun and simply admire the perks of living in this quintessential city, I totally recommend checking out these unique places.

Haile Village Center

Where: 9116 SW 51st Rd

What to do: Although this shopping plaza is about a 15-minute drive from campus, it’s definitely worth going to if you’re looking to be immersed in a quiet, local atmosphere. The farmer’s market takes place on Saturday mornings, where many people (and their dogs) fill the narrow streets to stop by and look amongst the sea of white tents. Tall oak trees line the sidewalks, providing a nice and comfortable shade around the entirety of the neighborhood.

I like to spend time here by just walking around the loop with an iced coffee from Patticakes in hand and gazing inside the windows of nearby shops. There are many other scenic, Instagram-worthy views to take in, such as the quaint gardens, the cute peach and sun-drenched yellow shops and even a building wall veiled entirely by a curtain of climbing ivy.

Bo Diddley Community Plaza

Where: 111 E University Ave

What to do: Located in the heart of Downtown Gainesville, Bo Diddley Community Plaza is comprised of a large concert stage and a wide grassy area for viewing. Interestingly, the plaza was renamed in 2009 after late rock ‘n’ roll legend Bo Diddley for his contributions to community service and charities. Events happening at Bo Diddley Community Plaza can be found on a calendar on their website, including weekly events such as the “Let’s Go Downtown Free Fridays” concert series and free yoga on Thursdays. In Oct. 2017, the plaza held Gainesville Pride Festival, and on March 24, it will hold the anticipated “March for Our Lives” event. Bo Diddley Community Plaza is a great space for our whole community to come together and actively engage in culture.

Depot Park

Where: 200 S.E. Depot Ave

What to do: It’s refreshing to go to Depot Park. For me, there are two reasons why: people-watching and dog-watching. Their website also provides a convenient list of things to do at the park as well as a public event calendar. Depot Park is pretty big, and there are a lot of grassy areas for kids to play around on or for those who just want to lounge. At the park, I can get some fresh air, which feels especially nice after taking an exam.

So yes, you may know Gainesville as a college town, but if you’re free any weekend to explore, you’ll discover that there’s more to what this city has to offer.

Photos courtesy of the writer, Sara.